Scriptures

Practical Singleness Lesson 2

Introduction

Single-Minded Singleness Has Its Advantages (Part 1)

Whilst being single you need to remember that you are already in a relationship with the most important person we know, Jesus. So, with Him being your priority and pleasing Him your goal, what a blessing it is to give Him our full attention. Please read 1 Corinthians 7:29-35 where will find discover Paul’s second and third advantages to being single.

2. Singles are better able to maintain spiritual priorities.

‘What I mean, my friends, is this: there is not much time left, and from now on married people should live as though they were not married; those who weep, as though they were not sad; those who laugh, as though they were not happy; those who buy, as though they did not own what they bought; those who deal in material goods, as though they were not fully occupied with them. For this world, as it is now, will not last much longer’. 1 Corinthians 7:29

In light of the fleeting nature of the world, Paul challenges us to live with the end in mind. Looking at these three verses, notice the two key phrases that bracket 1 Corinthians 7:29-31.

1. ‘The time has been shortened’. 1 Corinthians 7:29.

2. ‘This world is passing away’. 1 Corinthians 7:31.

The first phrase ‘the time has been shortened’ reminds us of the briefness of life. No one lives forever on planet earth. You may live 30 or 40 or 50 years. Who knows? You may live 80 or 90 years, but sooner or later you’re going to die. And no matter how long you live, you’re going to be dead a lot longer than you’re going to be alive. If you doubt that, just check out the nearest cemetery. Every grave is proof that the time is short.

The second phrase ‘this world is passing away’ comes from a Greek expression that means something like

‘this world is but a shadow of reality.’

Everything we see is fleeting and insubstantial. The metaphor perhaps is drawn from the shifting scenes in a theatre. The idea is that this life is here one moment and gone the next. It’s similar to our sitcoms and movies that must change scenes every couple of seconds.

This life isn’t all there is, therefore, single-minded singleness has its advantages. So, the time is short, and the world is passing away. What follows from this truth?

Matthew Henry says that we should live with ‘holy indifference’ to the things of this world. 1 Corinthians 29-31 flesh this out point in five different ways.

1. With regard to our intimate relationships:

‘From now on those who have wives should be as though they had none.’ 1 Corinthians 7:29

Now there’s a verse you don’t hear quoted at many weddings. It simply means, enjoy your marriage but don’t make your marriage the most important thing in your life.

2. With regard to afflictions:

‘Those who weep, as though they did not weep.’ 1 Corinthians 7:30a

Again, this simply means do not be so overcome with grief that you act as if God doesn’t have the final word.

3. With regard to pleasure:

‘Those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice.’ 1 Corinthians 7:30b

Great times are great, but Paul reminds us not to get so caught up in joy that you forget that suffering is right around the corner. In everything you do, don’t forget about eternal realities.

4. With regard to purchases:

‘Those who buy, as though they did not possess.’ 1 Corinthians 7:30c

When you do make purchases, be a wise steward. Don’t spend carelessly on the world’s toys and trinkets. And what you do purchase, hold loosely. Be careful, lest the things you possess, end up possessing you. Acknowledge that you are a steward and the Master may call for what He has given you.

5. With regard to all earthly concerns:

‘Those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world.’ 1 Corinthians 7:31a

Use the world, enjoy the world, live in the world, work in the world, buy and sell in the world, but do not let the world rule your life. The message is clear and unmistakable. You won’t be here forever so enjoy life, live it to the fullest, take advantage of every moment but don’t indulge yourself so much that you lose your focus on what really matters.

Singles have the potential to maintain spiritual priorities. One of the reasons that this is the case is because of Paul’s third advantage.

3. Singles have fewer distractions.

‘I would like you to be free from worry. An unmarried man concerns himself with the Lord’s work, because he is trying to please the Lord. But a married man concerns himself with worldly matters, because he wants to please his wife; and so, he is pulled in two directions. An unmarried woman or a virgin concerns herself with the Lord’s work, because she wants to be dedicated both in body and spirit; but a married woman concerns herself with worldly matters, because she wants to please her husband. I am saying this because I want to help you. I am not trying to put restrictions on you. Instead, I want you to do what is right and proper, and to give yourselves completely to the Lord’s service without any reservation.’ 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Paul expresses the reality that marriage requires being absorbed in the ‘concerns’ of one’s spouse and encourages singles in their devotion to Christ. Paul acknowledges that married people are concerned about their spouse, and rightly so! If they are not, they will not find themselves in a happy marriage.

Marriage requires immense sacrifice, time, and energy. Thus, Paul’s point is that the marriage relationship can keep us from devoting ourselves more fully to Christ.

For example, we must balance our devotion to our spouse, children, and God. Yet, at the same time be so consumed with God that every area of our lives is well balanced. Remember, single-minded singleness has its advantages.

Dr. John Murray was once a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, who because of creeping liberalism in that institution joined with a number of other fine scholars to found Westminster Theological Seminary. John Murray served on the faculty there for many decades as Professor of Theology, writing many excellent books that have served the church well for decades.

A life-long bachelor, he finally retired at age 75, moved back to his homeland of Scotland, and married a woman about half his age. Less than two years later they had a child. I think he felt that he had given God the best 75 years of his life; now it was time to have a little fun. Unfortunately, his heart couldn’t take all that excitement, and a few years later he died.

Granted, this is a most unusual case, but it demonstrates that it’s possible to honour God with singleness if you have the gift, and then marry at a later time. Single-minded singleness has its advantages and not having a spouse and or children to worry about means more times spent devoted to God.

Your First Thoughts

Please write down your own thoughts on this part of the lesson whilst they are fresh in your mind.

Evaluation Questions

These questions are designed to help you think through the topic discussed so that you may have a true view of yourself.

1. What do YOU like about being single?

2. Why would it be beneficial to YOU to remain single?

3. Would it be beneficial to YOU to enter a relationship?

4. Would it be beneficial for your MATE for YOU to enter a relationship with them?

5. Do YOU believe that entering a relationship right now would change your priorities?

6. In what ways do you believe that entering a relation would cause YOU to be distracted?

Next Lesson

Single-Minded Singleness Has Its Advantages (Part 2)

We will discuss: Despite the misconception that some singles have, they really do have the option of marriage. We will see that being single means you can serve others more and focus on building a more solid foundation in our relationship with God who is actually helping us develop skills for that future relationship without us realising it. We will also look at how being single is a blessing in our everyday schedules.

Next lesson Preparation

Please read 1 Corinthians 7:36-40 / Matthew 5:32 / Matthew 19:9/ 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 / Galatians 5:13.

Back To Practical Singleness Lesson 1

Go To Practical Singleness Lesson 3

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'"

Matthew 22:37

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